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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Brilliant Idea

Headed to Tucson for bike training this winter? Seems like a good place to stay is Cycling House. Not that I know anything about Cycling House. Or Tucson. But the concept of a place oriented solely toward us is off-the-charts cool.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Grand Tours Screw Pro Tour

For reasons I don't fully understand for lack of attention, the Grand Tours have pulled all of their races from the Pro Cycling Tour. This includes not only the Vuelta, Giro and Grand Boucle, but another 5 races run by these organizations. Sounds like a pissing match, probably over both payouts and who gets the slots. The result in 2006 will be that the 8 races wouldn't count in the PCT, and in 2007 things would get even stickier with slots at the big races. This strikes me as something that could be worked out, right up til the eve of Paris-Nice, and still turn out fine. However, it doesn't sound like everyone plays well together.

For the record, I hate LeBlanc, so if this is his fault, fuck him.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Love the Pro Tour!

Cycle Sport starts off this month's edition with a pros-and-cons of the Pro Cycling tour. Although they list a number of complaints, about the points system, the chilling effect on non-PCT races, etc., their main complaint seems to be that the PCT failed to get the big names to race more.

Well guess what? You can't make people race when it doesn't fit their program! Was the Pro Tour supposed to assure that Lance and Jan raced the Giro, or Paris-Tours? I can't think of a legal system that could require this. And even if you could, there is no way these guys would race to win. Instead of training at home that day, they would do their workout on the race course. Specialization is here to stay, until someone comes up with REAL financial incentives to convince guys who have a shot at the Tour to blow their fitness on some other race. If you give Basso $10 million to ride the Tour of Switzerland instead, OK, he might do it. Is that going to happen? No freakin way.

The article goes on to complain that although the PCT got foreign teams to the Giro, for example, they sent their B-squads, and in the end the race was contested primarily by Italians. Uh, but one of those B-riders from one of those foreign teams won the race! And it was the best field in years, the best race in years, ... need I go on?

Another complaint is that by giving points in all races, you tend to get a lot of days when the PCT jersey holder doesn't show, because the leader will emerge with Classics wins and then go home for a month, or skip the grand tours. For example, DiLuca didn't ride the Vuelta, and Boonen never raced in White because following Roubaix he didn't race again until after DiLuca had taken the lead. Whereas in the World Cup system, they only chose races where the jersey contestants would all show for, i.e. Classics. Putting aside the fact that this jersey business is just optics, even this is a distinction with little difference: the PCT leadership was basically contested in the same suite of Classics races, with the jersey on display about as often as a WC leader's jersey would have been. And the major difference with the WC is that DiLuca got extra credit for nearly putting himself on the Giro podium, which I always thought was a good thing. Oh, and the PCT jersey got three weeks of exposure in Italy it wouldn't had gotten if, say, Boonen were in first at the time.

I think the PCT did the best it can, and shouldn't be criticized for failing to do the impossible. Is the points system ideal? I dunno, I'm sure there are different ways to do this, and don't especially care how it comes out. Did it get the biggest riders to change their priorities? Hell no, and like I said, nothing short of overwhelming bribery will ever do that. The Italians will try to rule in Italy, the Spaniards will contest the Vuelta, the Belgians will go nuts on the cobbles, and all the best of the best will toe the line in France in July. The PCT actually increased participation, made teams branch out into all disciplines, and therefore made competition better.

Whaddy'all think?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Here We Go... Giro!

I haven't had time to dissect the course, really, but a couple items in today's CyclingNews begin the buildup -- namely, Basso's commitment to ride the Giro again and DiLuca's focus on it.

Starting with Il Killer, it will be extremely interesting to see if he can make the leap to a grand tour GC contender, as today's announcement of his "focus on the Giro" statement suggests he wants to be. He was last year, finishing fourth and driving the penultimate stage to Sestriere (see yesterday's post) in a last-ditch stab at the podium, so without recalling the time differences it's clear he doesn't have much ground to make up. But, was last year a fluke? Did people let him ride wherever he wanted because they assumed he was ultimately a classics rider incapable of the podium? I recall he won the stage in Abruzzi in Classics style, which suggests that his orientation was (or was assumed to be) toward stages only. In other words, his ultimate fourth was a fluke. The sledding will be tougher now that he's maybe a GC rider. He's young and strong enough to make the transition, but the Giro is VERY high stakes right now. And very exciting.

As for Basso, what part of "riding the double will kill your Tour chances" does he (and Riis) not understand? OK, that's a bit dramatic (not to mention obnoxious). I vaguely understand the financial benefits to a sponsor of having an Italian star win in Italy. And it's debatable as to whether riding the Giro last year helped or hurt. Presumably his health issues in the Giro lessened the impact; he was hunting for stages after blowing up on the Stelvio and didn't overextend himself as much as if he had been defending the jersey. On the other hand, he gets immediately installed as a prime favorite for pink, and in doing so he throws the Tour wide, wide open.

Damn, next season is going to be fun to watch.

Little Chicken

Heh heh... Will he now have as much trouble as me scheduling training rides?

Michael Rasmussen's girlfriend Cariza gave birth to a baby boy Milo on November 29 at 12:29, CET. Everything is fine with the mother and son. Rasmussen junior weighed 2.95 kg and was 49 centimetres long at birth.

P.S. I suspect intuitively (i.e. without being able to make the conversion) that these numbers are probably normal, but doesn't the use of metric make it sound like he's shaped like a really tall stick figure?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

And The Nominees Are...

Let's keep this end-of-the-year retrospective simple. I want to hear your nominee (singular) for rider of the year and race of the year. And make your case, please. Once we have three nominees, I'll make a separate post and put it to a vote.

Rider of the Year: Boonen? Lance? George? Il Killer di Spoltore? Make your selection. I am a long way from figuring this one out, although I guess I'd make Boonen the favorite.

Race of the Year: I can make my nomination right now. May 28, the penultimate stage of the Giro finishing at Sestriere. Visually I'm not sure it can match one of the big classics, but with one day left in the second-biggest stage race of the year, and the pink jersey on the back of a, shall we say, struggling leader in Savoldelli, two-time winner Simoni was being escorted away into the virtual maglia rosa by a gravity-defying Abruzzese in DiLuca. Until...what? Was it DiLuca's cramp? Did Savoldelli get a second wind? Did Simoni lose his nerve? Did Bruyneel make a deal with the Lotto boys? High drama can be a bit ambiguous in long stages of long stage races, but that doesn't detract from the gravity of the event. Personally I love this day for the amazing chess match that it was, even if there was no two-up sprint at the end to drive the point home.

So that's mine. Looking fwd to yours.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Calling All Pros

Do any readers know any recent pro cyclists or recently retired pros? I am tempted to do some actual reporting, i.e. interviews, on the subject of doping enforcement, i.e. what exactly do WADA and others do to try to keep up with the dopers? Suggestions appreciated. Including if you know a guy who knows a guy.

Contact me offline at Thanks, DP Management

P.S. I am not kidding.

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